Tell us about yourself and your music
I am an artist and musician, living and working in Johannesburg. My projects range from art-objects and installations to sound design and musical outputs. I have a desire for innovative and dislocating descriptions of life through a willingness to confront it in all its contradiction and complexity.
Talk to us more about your latest release
My latest album, MAW, was released recently on renowned Miami label, Other Electricities. MAW embarks on capturing an imagined humanity which exists post-reason – the ten songs shed waning light onto and into this post-scientific realm where meaning is unhinged, shedding the loci of lexeme and category. Lyrical perspectives swell and distort, images fuzz into and from view. MAW is a cryptic, strangely optimistic, albeit melancholic, travelogue of some alternate human reality.
What inspired you to write this release?
My current artistic interests lie in reference to places of emotional resonance — hearing the contours of a landscape and transposing them into song and object, a distillation of ‘place’ through music and artefact. I am searching for enchantment on the borders between natural and man-made terrain.
Any plans to release a video?
I have systematically been releasing a video for every song on MAW. These videos continue the overall mythical narrative while staying true to the mini-narratives inside each song. If MAW is the abstracted intimacy of some alternate human reality then the Video series, “The Marl of Maw”, may be seen as its visionary history highlighting man’s folly in the face of nature.
I made each video using hundreds and hundreds of archival, free-to-use, creative commons footage. The seemingly disparate sources are pulled together in a type of time-based collage — I had to re-edit, splice, re-time and treat the footage to realise the stories I had imagined for each song.
The full series gets published here: https://vimeo.com/album/2474592
Any plans to hit the road?
I’ve just completed a small tour of South Africa to celebrate the release of MAW. Next, I’m off to Finland for an artist residency and show in February. I’ll be part of an experimental music festival in Johannesburg on my return to South Africa in March and I’m hoping to release the companion album to MAW called YAW in April which will have it’s own set of shows across the country.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I’m a little old school. I take care of the music first — this is of primary importance. I trust that in time, those who value it will find it. I like services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud that enables fans to get to the music and puts creators in control.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I really like the new Caroline Polachek album (CEP — Drawing The Target Around The Arrow). It’s very different to her work with Chairlift and highly experimental but also beautifully assured and semi-transcendental. Other highlights include the latest Cory Hanson and all the Wand albums.
Tell us about your passions
In addition to music, I’m also a visual artist. Not so long ago, my visual projects had an almost didactic approach — it had very clear agendas and objectives — whereas the music has always been more open and automatic, unencumbered by an audience expectation and in this sense, at once pure but idiosyncratic, bordering on solipsistic in its opacity. Lately, the two are coming closer together, not only thematically, but also as a result of my art practice becoming more fluid and less heady and my songwriting more focused and less random.
What else is happening next in your world?
Soon, I leave for Finland as part of a month-long artist residency program. I hope to display the findings from the residency as a gallery show on returning to South Africa. A new album called YAW is due for release in April. YAW is a set of 24 short instrumental vignettes written on a uniquely prepared, tempered classical guitar. As a complementary collection, it attempts to do instrumentally what MAW describes with voice and words. I’m also, in between all this, trying to record a demo with a new band I’m part of called Zoo Lake — we have a loud no-wave psychedelic post-punk sound. And I’m constantly writing and experimenting with new sounds and songs for my solo project.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Givan!